As opposition builds, Pence says his vote will confirm DeVos

From WiG and AP reports

 Vice President Mike Pence said he fully expects billionaire GOP donor Betsy DeVos to be confirmed as education secretary with his tie-breaking vote.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Pence said the Trump administration is “very confident” DeVos will take up her Cabinet post soon.

At least two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, say they will vote against DeVos’ nomination, citing concerns from parents and teachers.

This means opposition is at a 50-50 tie in the Senate if all Democrats vote against her and no other Republicans dissent.

Pence would be the tie-breaker.

DeVos has faced fierce criticism from labor unions for her promotion of school choice. Democrats and teachers’ organizations also accuse her of seeking to dismantle public education.

The Senate vote is Tuesday and Democrats are set to challenge the nomination and question DeVos’ credentials throughout Monday night.

In Wisconsin, Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin issued a statement in January saying she will not support the nomination.

Baldwin said, “Wisconsin has a long and proud tradition of supporting quality public education for every student. In fact, from our beginning in 1848, the state constitution provided for a free education for all children in the state. This is a tradition I have a deep respect for and have worked to move forward. It is very important to me that our next Secretary of Education respects this tradition and is committed to it, but after meeting with Betsy DeVos, and participating in the hearing as a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, I don’t believe she does.

“Nor do I believe she is qualified to lead America’s efforts to give more students access to a higher education. We have a student loan debt crisis in our country and this nominee did not earn my trust that she is prepared to act and make higher education more affordable for students and families.

“In addition, it is deeply troubling this nominee for Secretary of Education failed to complete her ethics homework and address in a transparent and timely way over 100 potential conflicts of interest prior to last week’s committee hearing. Important questions and concerns remain for Betsy DeVos, which is why I have joined my colleagues in calling for a second committee hearing that would ensure that these and other important issues receive the scrutiny that they deserve.

“Betsy DeVos lacks the public education experience and qualifications for this job and she would not rule out defunding public schools. For all these reasons and more, I will not support Betsy DeVos’ confirmation to be our next Secretary of Education.”

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, however, is a likely vote for DeVos — his campaigns have received $49,000 from her family, according to End Citizens United.

Multiple petitions and call-in drives are underway urging Johnson to vote against confirmation or to recuse himself from the vote.